There are few things as heartbreaking and infuriating as learning that your child is the victim of bullying. As attention towards this very real problem allows more parents to understand that the way some children are treated is more serious than a simple case of “kids being kids,” efforts to crack down on schoolyard harassment are increased. If your child is among the millions that are physically or emotionally tormented by a bullying peer, these 10 tips can help you navigate this delicate situation.
- Recognize the Signs – Kids are often reluctant to approach an adult or to report bullying behavior because of a sense of shame or embarrassment. It’s important to keep your eyes open for any signs of bullying so that you’re able to recognize them and begin to help your child solve the problem.
- Be Available – While pushing or pressuring your child to open up about any trouble he’s having at school is likely to make him even more reluctant to talk, it’s imperative that your child know you’re there and available to listen to him whenever he does need to talk to you. When he’s not being pressed to talk about being bullied, he may be more willing to open up.
- Ask Questions – Make sure that you take the time to learn what sort of abuse your child is suffering from, why it’s happening and what you can do to support him through it.
- Discourage Retaliation – It’s imperative that you not only abstain from encouraging your child to retaliate against bullying peers, but also that you take an obvious stand against it. Retaliation will only cause your child to land himself in trouble, and can often backfire in terrible ways.
- Save Harassing Communications – Make sure that any emails, private messages on social networking sites, texts or voice messages that contain harassing statements, threats or other proof of bullying are saved for reporting purposes.
- Speak With School Administrators – In persistent cases of bullying, the best course of action is to calmly approach school administrators to discuss the matter. Though it can be understandably difficult for you to keep your emotions under wraps during these conversations, it’s important to remember that you’re more likely to get the results you’re looking for if you maintain your composure and remain calm.
- Teach Him How to Block and Report Cyberbullies –Social networking sites, email providers and other Internet-based communication portals almost always have “Block and Report” options, which can help to prevent some harassing messages from reaching a bullied kid. Make sure that your child knows how to block social networking profiles, email addresses and phone numbers from contacting him.
- Get Him Involved in an Activity or Hobby – Helping your child find a hobby that he’s interested in and getting him involved in activities outside of school can not only help to distract him from the taunts of his classmates, but also can boost his confidence when he discovers that he’s skilled in a particular area.
- Nurture His Self-Esteem – Your child’s self-esteem takes a battering when he’s taunted by bullies, making it imperative that you do everything you can to help him rebuild it. Make an effort to let him know that he’s an important, treasured part of the family, and that he’s loved very much and cannot be replaced.
- Consider Counseling – In particularly severe or long-term cases of bullying, your child may require the services of a counselor to work out his feelings and begin to recover. Remember that years of being bullied are the equivalent of being abused for that period of time, and may require some assistance for your child to overcome.
To put bullying into perspective, imagine that the children committing these acts against their peers were adults. Physically harming someone or intimidating them in order to take their money is robbery and assault. Slander, libel, harassment, assault and even sexual assault are all crimes that adults are charged with, but are often considered little more than a childhood rite of passage when they’re committed by other kids. Bullying is no laughing matter, though, and should never be taken lightly.